Do sales, customer service, accounting & engineering in your enterprise software business each communicate a consistent public message? If you don’t know the answer to this question, you need to find out. When each of these departments have a clear understanding of your business’ brand and profile the chances of you hitting revenue targets improves a lot.
Brand and profile are two different concepts. Product brands get a lot of attention, but product profiles do not. In a story titled “How B2B Companies Can Up Their Customer Experience Game” Nicholas Caffentzis paints a picture of product profile. Your product profile is all about how sales, customer service, accounting behave with the public, where “the public” means customers, suppliers, partners, or anyone else. The 5 topics in Caffentzis’ story build the profile. Caffentzis starts with the importance of focusing on needs:
Start with Your Customer’s Most Critical Issues
Any one of your workers should have some experience putting herself/himself in the shoes of the other person in the conversation, whether the conversation is text based (email, text messaging), or live. It is not easy to do this. But successfully training staff to keep “what’s in it for me” (where “me” is the other person in the conversation) makes your goal of achieving business performance targets much easier.
Make Customer Outcomes Your Focus
When engaging with the public, much more of the responsibility of this profile falls on sales, but the other departments in your business contribute as well. Caffentzis correctly makes clear what he means by outcomes: specific, quantified calculations of improvements in value. He also is spot on when he points out most businesses fail to behave in keeping with this profile. Why? Because the sales team is purely transactional in its engagement. When the sale has been booked, the conversation is over. Not good. Successfully behaving in keeping with this profile requires the sales team to collaborate with the customer. To persuade the customer to trust and, thereby, to share hard numbers on costs, financial targets, and more.
Fine, but customer support has to help this effort as well. Help here means keeping an understanding of a customer’s financial targets, broadly speaking, at the forefront of the customer support incident. It can be as simple as empathizing with the customer and making a best effort to keep the cost of their remediation effort as low as possible. For example, scheduling an online meeting as an opportunity to debug an issue, rather than adding yet another email message to an endless chain.
Focus on People, Processes, and Technology
Caffentzis spends a comparatively short amount of time on this one. He writes a couple of sentences on the topic. But this profile is a big one. It has everything to do with following up with the customer after the sale. Far too few enterprise software businesses convey care to customers, especially after the sale. If the product wasn’t test in production settings presale, your team needs to work with the customer through the rollout. If the price you charged doesn’t cover this cost, you need to find some way to absorb the first one, and then raise your price to pay for the next one. This I’m here for you profile must be your new normal.
Don’t Forget to Look in the Mirror
In this final section Caffentzis presents the case for continuous improvement. Internal training, infrastructure support, and data collection are each critically important behaviors. As such they need to be included in your profile. If you did not budget for these costs you have to go back to the drawing board and build them. You will probably have to raise your prices to pay for them. The payoff will be big if you succeed.
Like this story? Here is a link to another you may find helpful